Shooting at peak levels doesn’t happen all the time, nor does it maintain itself without hard work. Even so, archers sometimes reach a point where their shooting “isn’t cutting it,” and they must make tweaks to improve.
Instead of plugging away in hopes their arrows magically start flying better, archers can use training strategies to improve more quickly. In particular, focusing only on the shot without the task of aiming can improve an archer’s form.
Shooting the same distance can get boring, which lets bad habits creep in. One way to work on your form is to shoot at a blank butt 5 meters away. That removes the pressure to aim, and lets you focus more on your shot and how it feels. Many coaches use this method to help their archers “find” their shot again if they aren’t shooting well. It also helps them teach new shooting techniques to improve their archers’ form.
Archers sometimes get caught up in aiming while executing their shots. In doing so, their shooting suffers. Shot execution is the most important aspect of making arrows hit where you want. If you’ve deviated from that by over-aiming and causing body tension, you won’t execute your shots consistently.
Try modifying your aiming device, such as removing the dot from your aiming ring or enlarging your aperture. That can make you aim subconsciously by aligning the target’s circles with the circle in your sight ring. By focusing less on aiming, archers can commit to shot execution without seeing their sight moving constantly on the target.
Working on a new shot at full poundage can be difficult, especially if the archery must break old, ingrained habits. Reducing your bow’s poundage increases your chances of adapting to the new form or perfecting your old form. It can also help you build your confidence in executing your shot. Your bow’s overall mass weight can also affect the effort required to hold the bow steady, thus eroding your focus on other aspects of your shot. Temporarily removing stabilizer weights can also reveal your weaknesses.
This exercise must be done at short distances. In general, keep your eyes open until you’re about to anchor. Closing your eyes takes away other visual distractions and lets you focus on feeling the shot. That’s important because muscle memory is important in proper form and shot execution before, during and after the shot.
While working to improve your form with these methods, or others not mentioned here, expect your scores to temporarily drop while your body makes the changes. Don’t get discouraged, because working on your form will help you in the future.
A good sign that things are coming together after changing form is a phenomenon called “moving groups.” That occurs when your body has gotten used to the changes, but still varies mildly end to end. Each end achieves a decent group, but wanders around the target. If you keep working to refine changes in your shot, your groups will cease moving and you’ll pack good groups into the target’s center.